Britain’s Free Speech Dilemma

Roya-Saberi_2870875bA British-Iranian woman, Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, has spent the last five months in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for writing on Facebook that Iran’s government was “too Islamic.” Arrested during a visit to Iran to visit family members, she has been charged with “insulting Islamic sanctities.” British authorities are indignant about this affront to the freedom of speech – but given the prevailing eagerness to avoid insulting Islamic sanctities in the U.S. as well as Britain, it is hard to see why.

Nobakht’s husband, Daryoush Taghipoor is worried: “It’s a very bad situation. We don’t know what’s going on. Roya is not well at all. She has lost three stone and is frightened. She is scared that the government will kill her.”

According to the Independent:

“Mrs Nobakht’s situation came to light after her husband approached his friend and former employer Nasser Homayoun-Fekri, who also lives in Stockport, who wrote a letter to his local MP Andrew Stunell.”

Homayoun-Fekri wrote:

“I must request, on humanitarian grounds as well as for the sake of justice, that you exert all possible pressure on the British Government to do all that is feasible for the release of this innocent British citizen. Especially considering that the Islamic Republic, as acknowledged by the United Nations… is one of the most notorious human rights abusers at all the stages of arrest, custody and trial.”

The British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is “urgently” examining Nobakht’s case, but there is little that it can do, as Britain does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Homayoun-Fekri explained to the Independent that Nobakht has apparently been charged with “an offence against attacking the holiness of Islam, which gives substance to [Internet postings] being the reason.” Bahareh Davis of Amnesty International thundered:

“If Roya Saberi Nejad Nobakht has been held solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression she must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Yet the odd thing about this story is that while Amnesty International and the British government are offended that Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht could be executed in Iran for “insulting Islamic sanctities,” in Britain (and America as well) it is a de facto crime to insult Islamic sanctities. It won’t get you prison (yet), but it will get you public abuse, insults, the savaging of your reputation, and ostracism from circles of the politically correct and self-styled right-thinking folk. Prison is just the next step. 

After all, the British government banned me from entering the country for saying that Islam is “a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society” – a manifestly true statement that is not controversial to anyone who has studied Islam. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad, in his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.

Just days before Pamela Geller and I were banned, the British government admitted Saudi Sheikh Mohammed al-Arefe. Al-Arefe has said:

“Devotion to jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls, and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honor for the believer. Allah said that if a man fights the infidels, the infidels will be unable to prepare to fight.”

Al-Arefe said essentially what I said – that Islam mandates warfare against unbelievers. The principal difference, aside from the fact that al-Arefe put it much more graphically than I did, was that al-Arefe is for jihad violence against non-Muslims, and I am against it. The British government banned me, in other words, for insulting Islamic sanctities – for daring to oppose the Islamic supremacist project of subjugating the world under Islamic world.

So why is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office “urgently” investigating this case? To be consistent, it should commend the Iranian government for acting so swiftly against Nobakht’s offense to Islam, and initiate prosecutions in Britain itself against those who insult Islamic sanctities. To stand for the freedom of expression, including the freedom to say something that Islamic authorities might consider insulting to Islamic sanctities, in Iran while denying it at home is patently absurd. 

If Sharia restrictions on speech that is insulting to Islam are good enough for Britain, then they’re good enough for Iran. Mark Stephenson, a man who ripped pages from a copy of the Qur’an and threw them onto the ground at a soccer match, was arrested and recently fined £235 for doing so. If Britons must therefore pay proper Sharia-dictated respect for the Qur’an or face monetary penalties, the British government has absolutely no leg to stand on in complaining about the Iranians’ prosecution of Roya Nobakht.

But if freedom of expression must be upheld in Iran, then why not in Britain as well? One hopes that the British government will soon recover its sanity and defend the freedom of expression everywhere, even at home – and even if “Islamic sanctities” are thereby offended.

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  • nagesha

    Robert Spencer is da man!

  • Bamaguje

    I totally agree with you Mr Spencer.
    The West lacks the backbone to stand up to Islamist oppression of free speech, when she herself pussy foots on the issue. She has severally capitulated to Islamist intimidation… whether its about Danish cartoons or banning Spencer & Geller.

  • bob smith

    “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.

    “If Britons must therefore pay proper Sharia-dictated respect for the Qur’an or face monetary penalties, the British government has absolutely no leg to stand on in complaining about the Iranians’ prosecution of Roya Nobakht.”

    Robert, you brilliantly laid with exacting deference the conundrum of the west, that is, what goes around comes around. The west is in the process of having allah’s word rammed down our throats all the while having jizya extracted from us, one vote at a time…only we call it political correctness, diversity, inclusiveness, racism, progressivism, etc.

    • Davros11

      I am with you bob smith! Death to Islam and those that preach it!

  • cacslewisfan

    Shine the light of truth Mr. Spencer!

  • Davros11

    Sorry, that will never happen! In Britain as in America, everyone has become pussified! So get used to being ruled by muslims and raped and beaten, and made a slave in your own country! Each and everyone deserves it for being such appeasers! I guess the gene from Chamberlain is in all Englishmen, as well as in your American cousins from across the sea!

    • kevinstroup

      Based upon all available evidence, I cannot disagree with what you say.

  • LoJoFo

    Mr. Spencer, you make too much sense.

  • Odin2

    And the government is proposing to relinquish US control over the internet? You don’t have to be George Orwell to foresee that non-US control will end badly for free speech.

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      Best comment on the thread, thus far …

      • CaoMoo

        Ill second that

    • glpage

      Do you think Obama really gives a rat’s patoot about free speech on the internet? Free speech on the internet is the biggest thorn in his side.

      • Odin2

        Obama doesn’t, but I do.

        • glpage

          I never had a doubt.

    • bob smith

      don’t you know…the USA didn’t build that, it was built on the backs of the world and every camel jockey therein…their sweat and hard work is what made it, not American ingenuity nor free market principles, comrade.

  • Carolina

    Relinquishing control over the internet is another dumb idea of the current administration.

  • Horace Yo

    The Saudi payroll reaps the souls of many quisling bureaucrats and politicians in the West – formerly Christendom and now Atheistdom.

  • Kevin Brown

    Silence is preservation. Shame is freedom. Submit and ye shall be chosen.

    If there is a god, may he bless Robert Spencer.

    • Jeff Ludwig

      There is a God, and I’m sure he is blessing R. Spencer. Amen.

  • EamonnDublin

    Here in Ireland, within the past ten days, a Judge caused uproar when he told a Muslim who had been convicted of assaulting his wife that “some Muslims seem to think they can beat their wives”. Now, as we all know, the Judge spoke the truth – under Shari’a law wife beating is indeed allowed in order to keep the wife in her place. But …. the result of the uproar? The Judge APOLOGISED profusely to all Muslims for offending them!! Don’t think the pussiness is confined to the UK and the USA, in Ireland the pussycats are lying on their backs saying “I’m sorry, don’t hurt me”!! By the way, in case I give a different impression, I am an extremely proud and devoted Irishman.

    • herb benty

      I believe you, however, the rabid anti-semitism/anti-Israel/BDS that comes forth from Ireland opens the door to Islam. That’s the camel’s nose, with the body following.

      • EamonnDublin

        Hello Herb and thank you for your comment. Regretfully, I have to fully agree with you. There certainly is a lot of anti-Semitic/anti-Israeli comments being spewed forth from Ireland. Part of the problem – as in other countries – is that the bigots and haters are the ones who shout the loudest, and they are also the ones who get the media publicity. The rest of society, as outlined in my original comment, is too frightened and too apathetic to say anything against Islamist extremism. When I say anything, I am looked at as if I have three heads. “Ah, shure, it’ll be grand” is the usual response. In other words, “stop talking about it and all the extremists will go away”!!! Sad, sad, sad!!

        • herb benty

          Thanks ED, just a Canadian here who has some Friends of Irish descent. I like Ireland, it’s history, culture etc. I have listened to “Clannad” occaisionally. Israel is also one of my favorite countries, so you can see my dismay when I’ve seen anti-semitic stuff coming from Ireland. However, I see we all have loudmouth bigots in our countries, whereas most folks are not. Take care, lad!

  • CaoMoo

    yeah nothing like the smell of hypocrisy in the morning… well it’s morning to me ignore the time stamp.

  • cxt

    Another thing few people stop to think about is overall message it sends.
    Essentially it rather strongly points out that if you are violent enough, if you kill enough people, you will get “respect” from both the Government and society at large.
    I wonder if our Leftist brethren–those so eager to placate and appease Islamic thugs–will feel the same when other extremists–such as those murders whom shoot abortion doctors and bomb clinics start thinking “Hmmm….works for them….why don’t we give it a try????”

  • wileyvet

    It is ironical that Iran, who wishes to prove how Islamic they are, arrests and condemns a woman who essentially agreed with them. How is that for logic? In an earlier age, Britain would have launched a punitive expedition under a Kitchener to avenge the insult to British prestige. Now they meekly submit like a dhimmi paying the Jizya. Excellent article Mr. Spencer. Might I add, I just finished “The Truth About Muhammad”, “Religion of Peace: Why Christianity Is, And Islam Isn’t” and “The Idiots Guide To The Koran”. All brilliant and I would recommend them highly. Thank you for doing what you do.


    DEATH to the islamofascist regime of iran!

    HANG the ayatollahs of fascist iran!


  • Hard Little Machine

    AI has only one thought. Blame it on the Jews. If you can’t, ignore it.

  • physicsnut

    Britain’s free speech ? Heck I just saw something on Pamela Geller about some newspaper in Sweden hacking into disqus and sending reporters to the homes of commenters who appear ‘anti-sharia’ . Wow is that over the top.
    Not to mention the creeps at SLATE and SALON who want the donor list for prop 8 so they can go after anyone else who might be anti-gay-marriage.
    well – about time it goes the other way. Get the list of donors to the other side and publish that list – and go after them with boycotts and sending reporters to those clowns.

    • Lokalkosmopolit

      Then I wouldn’t be surprised if they hacked into my Disqus account given what bad things I write about Dhimmis like them and about the Swedish ”PC rape rate”. on Wikipedia (

  • Jeff Ludwig

    We are moving towards the British “dilemma.” Whether we should suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous sha’ria and p.c. repression, or die to our fears, and affirm what we believe against a tide of values anathema to Western Civilization.

  • fedupwithunamericanism

    don’t come into my country (USA) and say you are offended-if you do come into my country you will follow my country’s laws period – you are not allowed to be offended- if you don’t like my country’s laws don’t come here with your jihad.
    We will not bend to your idiot demands. This is the USA. Still land of the FREE. Freedom of speech to tell you sharia law can go fuck it’s self . I am free to express my opinion. Can people do that under sharia law?

  • Lokalkosmopolit

    Thanks to the author for adding the ”desire to shed blood, to smash skulls” citation. Just added it to the respective Wikipedia article on Mohamad al-Arefe . Let’s see how long it takes before it gets swept under the carpet there.